My Car Quest

June 20, 2024

My Barn Find – A Ferrari 365 GTC/4

by Wallace Wyss

Now it sounds like such a cliché to say “Yeah, this is some movie producer’s car that I found in the Hollywood Hills.”

But it’s true.

It was in fact owned by a producer in the Hollywood Hills but I actually found this car at an auto shop back in the ‘80s because I was a frequent visitor to the shop of Al Axelrod in West Hollywood. One day I saw a dark green Ferrari there, one with cloth upholstery (tartan no less!) and it had spider webs in it. I said “Whose car is this—it doesn’t get much use.”

The Ferrari

First a little background on the Ferrari GTC/4: Introduced at the 1971 Geneva Salon it was intended to be a sort of businessman’s express, a counter to the rough and ready Daytona.

It had twelve cylinders and six Webers like the Daytona but was tamer, with around 310 hp. And was wet sump, not dry sump like the Daytona.

It was really a replacement for the 365 GT 2+2, which it replaced on the Pininfarina assembly line.

It looked like a two seater to most people and I don’t think I ever had two people in the two small rear seats. I know an adult could sit in it if they took both seats, which I did in Holland at a rally but the rear seat used as such was very uncomfortable.

The GTC/4 was easier to drive than the Daytona because it used power steering.

Ferrari 365 GTC/4

It could have been this one only it was green

And the gearbox was connected to the engine so it didn’t have that problem the Daytona has with the gears grinding before they were warmed up, the gearbox in the Daytona being in the rear.

It is thought most of the 365 GTC/4s made were sold on the American market, and production ended around October 1972, when the replacement 365 GT4 2+2 unveiled at the Paris Salon. It had proper seats in back for adults, basically a redesigned and even more sober, longer wheelbase version of the 365 GTC/4.

The movie producer

Now back to Al. He said it was a customer’s car, the guy was a movie producer who about once a year would send it down from the Hollywood Hills but then, when the bills got to be above $1,000, yank it back and he wouldn’t see it again for another year.

He said he was trying to buy the car but the man wanted $25,000. I shrugged and forgot about it.

Meanwhile I sold my 308GTS at a price about 25% less than what I’d bought it for back in 1979 and waited for the opportunity to buy a V12. Then I am in Santa Monica, and pass a used car lot and there’s the same GTC/4 in the same International Harvester green livery. So I stop in and note there are two clean ones in the showroom for $50,000 each. But out here in the lot the Ferrari 365GTC/4 that was worn at the heels was only $25,000. The salesman, named coincidentally Wally, left me for a minute and I opened the glove compartment and there was the owner’s registration. I made a note of his address and when I went home I wrote him a letter saying I wanted to buy the car and added that they were treating his car badly at the lot by displaying it outside while they had two polished up ones inside for twice the price. I knew he had a hair-trigger temper and he yanked it from the lot.

The deal

He said “How much do you want to pay?” and I said “$16,000” and he said what I expected: “But I want $25,000″ and I responded with my prepared answer, something like “hey, I’d love to pay that much but in truth I don’t have that much, so what the hey, let’s split the difference,” which to my calculations was $19,000.

So he accepts and I hire a flatbed and go up to the Hollywood Hills. He’s got this big manor house with a view all the way to Long Beach for Chrissake and a carport that has about 10 slots, each with a car, and his pretty blonde wife says “Oh, you are here for the monster,” and I say “Yes”, and she of course can’t find the key so I hook a chain to it and start dragging it.

At one point the car is carving a dark green groove into the side of the peach colored house which is in turn laying a peach colored streak on the car. But no matter, we’re talking V12, four cam, six carb Ferrari for 19 G’s here…then the maid runs out with the key, I unlock the steering lock and veer it away from the house for the remainder of the trip.

When I get the car down to the flatlands to Bruno Borri’s shop on La Brea I leave it and three days later he calls me and says “It no has compression on two cylinders.” I figure that’s why Ferrari chose 12 cylinders, what’s the loss of one or two if you still win the race, right?. But they keep trying and two days later they say they got it fixed and I go down there and pick it up.

I paint it rosso corsa like every newbie Ferrari buyer and buy license plates that say PROVA MO drove it for the next three years, even up to Monterey, spending very little on it. Even when I did spend, I was simpatico with this shop, and there was never a invoice or even list of what was done, I would just take it in and they would “fettle it,” make it better, marginally. I think I never really ran on 12 cylinders because late in my ownership I took the distributor cap off and saw some metal contacts were melted so maybe it had been running on ten at best. But what the hey, I had experiences like driving through the Malibu tunnel at 7,500 rpm in second gear and then backing off to hear the exhaust through the open windows. Priceless!

The Ferrari moves on

I lost the car in a divorce when my wife accepted it for a paper value of three times what I had paid for it, so I let it go even though I was sure she couldn’t drive it, it requiring more clutch effort than she could muster.

I can still find it on occasion by typing in the serial number and see it pop up at this dealer or that one. It’s comforting to know that it’s out there, soldering on through life without me.

Lesson learned? Buy your favorite exotic car mechanic a donut and coffee now and then, because you never know what you’ll find at the back of their shop…that neglected car that the movie producer admitted to me “I found it in Cannes when I was at the film festival. I should have left it there…”

Ferrari 365 GTC/4

THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: Wallace Wyss painted this portrait of his car. He says prints are available by writing

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My Barn Find - A Ferrari 365 GTC/4
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My Barn Find - A Ferrari 365 GTC/4
The author found some movie producer’s Ferrari in the Hollywood Hills.

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